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Wednesday: PR Lessons Learned in a Crisis - Hurricane Ike

Hello [firstname],

This Week: Communicating UTMB's Recovery After Ike

How many PR professionals do you know who have ridden a bicycle through hurricane debris to deliver a message to the media? Following Hurricane Ike, a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) staff member did just that.


This Wednesday, PRSA Houston's welcomes UTMB director of media relations Raul Reyes to its monthly luncheon. Reyes will describe the role communications played in the crisis immediately following Ike, through the legislative challenges to the institution's survival and to its recent financial triumphs. Throughout, Reyes' team reminded key audiences of UTMB's vital importance not only to Galveston but also to patients throughout Southeast Texas. 


Reyes served as a reporter and editor at numerous organizations before joining UTMB in 2007. Most recently, he was an editor at the New York Times, national editor at the Dallas Morning News and assistant managing editor at the San Antonio Express-News. A graduate of the University of Houston, Reyes began his career at the Houston Chronicle, where he advanced from copy boy to become a city hall and Texas Capitol bureau reporter.

Register now



Date:        August 4, 2010

Time:        11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Location:   Briar Club

Contact:    Paula Ruth, APR, 281-870-1717, for event information

Thanks to our August sponsor





Excalibur Reorder Deadline Extended

Congratulations to all of the 2010 Excalibur Awards for Excellence winners who were recognized at the 2010 Excalibur Awards Gala presented by Brookwoods Group, June 17.

View the complete list of winners

Order additional award copies by completing the paper form or make your payment online.


Requests made by the end of today will be available Wednesday, Aug. 4 at the luncheon.





Nominating Committee Seeks Candidates

The PRSA Houston Nominating Committee is working on a slate of candidates for the 2011 leadership election. If you are interested in running on the ballot for an open Board of Directors or Assembly Delegate position, contact 2009 President Terri Larson by Wednesday, Aug. 4. 

Assembly delegates must be accredited in public relations.  Accreditation is not required to be a candidate for the Board of Directors.  The election will be held in August with the results announced at the Sept. 1 Luncheon and Annual Meeting.




Don't Miss Your Chance to Be a Sponsor at the Biggest PR Event of the Year


Sign-up to be a sponsor of one of the biggest PRSA Houston events of the year! PR Day 2010 is scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown.


Special thanks go out to our early commitment sponsors - CenterPoint Energy, Conference Kit Sponsor, Hill & Knowlton, Keynote Sponsor, Business Wire, PR Day Swag Bag sponsor, Exhibitor Sponsor Texas Press Clipping Bureau and Lagniappe Sponsor EyelitDesigns.
Scholarship sponsor Shell and our in-kind sponsors Graphique, Disc Pro Printing & Graphics, Flowers by Nino and Encore Printstore.


There are still several exciting ways to get involved as a sponsor for PR Day! To learn more about becoming an official PR Day 2010 sponsor, visit the PR Day page on the PRSA Houston site, and click on our Sponsorship Guide. Sponsorship opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Presenting Sponsor (exclusive) $5,000 - Helps cover the operating expenses associated with providing a first-class professional development experience for PR professionals.
  • Technology Sponsor (exclusive) $4,000- Underwrites the costs of all projector, laptop and wide-screen costs associated with PR Day 2010.
  • Breakfast Sponsor $1000 - Covers additional breakfast costs.
  • In-Kind Sponsor - Covers the costs of printing invitations, save the date cards, programs, cds, signage, or other logistical costs for the event. 

Contact:       Osjetta Gascey:



About PR Day


Plan to attend PR Day 2010 November 30, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown.


The theme for this year’s one-day, action-packed conference and expo event is PRSA: Promoting Relationships, Surviving Adversity.

The popularity of social media and new technologies, such as smart phone apps, have added new ways to communicate to a broader audience. These new tools have also required PR and communications professionals to stay on their toes when crises occur. With just a click of a button, news, good or bad, can reach the public within seconds.


PR Day 2010 will focus on promoting networking with diverse audiences using these tools and other communication outlets. The program will also address how to avoid the adverse effects new technologies can produce.


Early speaker commitments include Houston's own PR pioneer and co-founder of Paper City Magazine, Becca Cason Thrash, our breakfast keynote, and Paul Taaffe, chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, Inc., our luncheon keynote.

PR Day is Houston’s premiere annual professional development event. PR Day 2010 promises to have something for everyone, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve got your fair share of war stories to tell. It's a great time to get involved in PRSA Houston to build relationships crucial to your career. 


Interested in helping plan this year’s PR Day? Join the 2010 Planning Committee!


Contacts:    PR Day Chair Lady Oliver, 832-866-6608


Communications Chairs - promotions, media

Kristi Krupala: (713) 792-2096;

Kim Miller:


Sponsorships - sponsorships, vendor exhibits, donations


Programming Chair - speakers, program

Cynthia Miller: (225) 610-0592;


Venue Logistics - exhibits, logistics, speaker travel

Meagan Stangle: (713) 243-8879;

Sept. 1: PR’s Role in the Future of Nonprofit Journalism

Can Evan Smith and his colleagues at The Texas Tribune save watchdog journalism in Texas? And what does its new nonprofit model mean for the state’s media relations practitioners?

Smith, CEO and editor of The Texas Tribune and former president and editor in chief of Texas Monthly, will discuss the year-old media outlet’s mission to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern. In addition to publishing the work of its seasoned staff online, The Texas Tribune partners with organizations such as the Houston Chronicle and the University of Texas on research and investigative reporting projects.

Smith joined The Texas Tribune in August 2009 after 18 years with Texas Monthly. A New York native, Smith holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University and is a founding co-chair of the Texas Film Hall of Fame.

Contact:   Paula Ruth, APR, 281-870-1717, for event information
                 and sponsorship opportunities


Oct. 6: Leading Real Estate with Communication

PRSA Houston welcomes one of Houston’s most PR-savvy chief executives to its Oct. 6 luncheon. Bob Hale, chief executive officer for Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), will address selling real estate and realtors through effective communication.


Despite a recession partially driven by a national real-estate bust, a month doesn’t pass without HAR making headlines with its home sales reports.


Hale not only champions HAR’s benefits to association members, he supports robust communications with consumers to help them understand the importance of including realtors in their real-estate transactions. Routinely recognized by trade media as one of America’s most influential people in real estate, Hale also received the 2010 Communication Leadership Award from IABC Houston.


Hale’s enthusiastic belief in all types of traditional and social media helps drive a million unique visitors a month to and makes HAR the largest organization of its type in the nation.

Register now


Date:        October 6, 2010

Time:        11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Location:   Briar Club

Contact:   Paula Ruth, APR, 281-870-1717, for event information
               and sponsorship opportunities




APR Spotlight: Louis Smyth, APR

APR is a mark of distinction for public relations professionals who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and to its ethical practice. APR candidates are selected based on their broad knowledge, strategic perspective and sound professional judgment.

PRSA Houston talked to Louis Smyth, APR, corporate communications manager for Houston-based Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. Here, he shares his Accreditation story.

PRSA Houston:  What made you decide to become Accredited at this stage in your career?


Smyth: As a print journalism graduate, I never had any official academic training in public relations. Having chosen this profession post graduation, I was very interested in exploring opportunities to further advance my knowledge and skills in public relations. When I first joined my current position at Universal, my immediate supervisor was former Houston PRSA Chapter President Cindy Suggs. Cindy's breadth of knowledge of all things public relations was an inspiration to me and allowed me to see how much I truly had to learn about the profession. We discussed her APR status and at the point I made it a goal to one day also become an APR.


PRSA Houston: How did you prepare for the Readiness Review and computer-based exam?


Smyth: For me, preparation for the Readiness Review and computer-based examination took many forms. I took the entire year to actually complete the process from the moment I officially signed up. Over the course of the year, I participated in two different small study groups, the online APR course, and the APR Boot Camp. This was in addition to my own readings of the recommended texts and official APR Study Guide.


Personally, I think what I benefited the most from was the in-person study groups and the APR Boot Camp. Speaking with other professionals helped take the theories and applications from the written word into actual real-world applications. I also found the Study Guide and tutorials on the online course to be helpful.


PRSA Houston: What advice do you have for others who are considering Accreditation?


Smyth: My advice for others considering Accreditation is to take a fresh approach to preparing for the examination. In my opinion, no amount of readings can replace actual experience and discussing the experiences of others in the field. I would recommend those considering Accreditation have a few years of experience in the field before beginning the process. I also strongly recommend taking advantage of the resources and individuals willing to help you through the process. I was lucky to have a great Accreditation Chair in Kelly George, APR, who patiently answered all of my questions and helped steer me in the right direction when I ventured off course. This is not a process, in my opinion, you can successfully complete on your own by simply studying. I truly believe you have to share experiences and listen to others for it to work.


PRSA Houston: Do you have any other comments or suggestions for people thinking of becoming accredited?


Smyth: I'm proud of my APR because it proved to me that I had the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in my career, and I think it's important for everyone to strive for this goal. I'm proud of my accomplishment and glad I undertook the process. If nothing else, I feel that I have gained a greater knowledge of the profession which will certainly help me as I continue in my career.





PRSA Houston Blog Bite


“While working in the mortgage industry during the now waning housing crisis, being informed is crucial to establishing and maintaining employee morale during these troubling times. It’s hard to put forth your best effort and focus on the job at hand when the possibility of unemployment and the terrors of job hunting loom over your head. Nothing is neutral; even to stay silent during periods of uncertainty sends a strong message to the workforce. I have no way of knowing whether our CEO is familiar with Grossman or the ideas he shared, but my company’s leader seems to understand how powerful the messages he sends to his employees can be.” Read more on PRSA Houston’s Blog site


An excerpt from a the blog entry “Why Leaders Can’t NOT Communicate – Even as a Mortgage Company CEO” by Jason Saenz, public relations writer/editor, Cornerstone Mortgage Company, about what he learned from PRSA Houston’s July luncheon.




Passionate About PR? Bloggers Wanted


Have an opinion on a PR issue you want to share?  Share your viewpoint with hundreds of PR professionals in the Houston area, and blog for PRSA Houston.  Become a trusted resource on some of the great PR issues of our time — from BP to teabaggers and beyond.  PRSA provides the forum.  You provide the thought leadership. Your followers provide the dialogue. 

Contact: Mike Wysatta for more information.


Luncheon Sponsorships Offer Good Marketing Value 

Are you a company looking for exposure to more than 2,000 communications professionals? PRSA Houston has monthly luncheon sponsorship opportunities available.

Thanks to MedTouch for sponsoring out August luncheon, featuring UTMB director of media relations Raul Reyes. Other sponsorships are available. Luncheon sponsors get the following benefits for $500:  

·         mention in promotional e-mail sent to database of 2000-plus subscribers

·         mention and text link in ePRo, the PRSA Houston newsletter sent to 2000-plus subscribers

·         text/Logo link on PRSA Houston Web site for one month

·         ability to distribute materials to all luncheon attendees

·         table in room to talk with luncheon attendees before and after the event

·         speaking opportunity at the luncheon (no more than 3 minutes)

·         one free lunch registration at the President's table; others available at $30 member rate

·         One time use of an electronically provided member list of physical addresses for all 440 PRSA Houston members.

Luncheon sponsorships do not include PR Day, for which we offer several exclusive PR Day sponsorship packages. Read more about this premiere event on the PR Day Page. Multi-event sponsorship agreements are also available.

Contact:       Paula Ruth, APR, 281-870-1717




Follow PRSA Houston


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Erin Schwartz
(713) 563-4920
Author: Erin Schwartz
Phone: (713) 563-4920
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